Queenstown

Back online, but with my mind still out there

Sorry, for the reduced frequency of posts recently, but I have been enjoying the (mostly) offline wilderness of one of the planet's most Southern tips. We today arrived Thames on New Zealand's North Island, after a journey through the stunning beauty of this country and are now lodging in a very nice and civilized accommodation called Grafton Cottage & Chalets. I caught myself, having my first shower here, that my hand did not reach for the nice and ecological shampoos provided, but grabbed the antibacterial hand wash with which I ended myself smelling like a biogas plant. Chlorine actually can smell nice, believe me.

View from Ben Lomond Summit (1700 m).

View from Ben Lomond Summit (1700 m).

Since the last time a message appeared on this website, we have been exploring the mountains around Queenstown as a warm up. Then we took the coastal route through rainforests, which appear on first sight Mesozoic, along the glaciers Rob Roy, Fox Glacier, and Franz Josef, with small detours into landscapes like the azure blue Hokitika Gorge. Like with many glaciers, it was amazing to see once more, how much they actually retreated in recent history. Around Murchison we followed the Johnson Creek to the site where the 1929 Murchison Earthquake left amazing traces by bending and breaking rocks in a manner that put for me the term "earth quake proof" into a new perspective. When it comes to something like that, nothing is earth quake proof. Never seen anything like it. The site is not easy to find, and you may want to download the GPS-Track (click here to download).

Franz-Josef Glacier

Franz-Josef Glacier

Leaving the alpine region of New Zealand, we took the ferry from Picton to Wellington which is a very scenic cruise through islands and peninsulas. But we did not stop in Wellington, but headed further to the Tongarino National Park (a volcanologist's paradise), and then to Thames, chilling down today the outdoor time with a hike to the Pinnacle. 

Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge

Browsing through the "documentary footage" of my small pocket camera, literally hundreds of questions come back to my mind. Like, why did the minerals and metals fall out in this sequence at the Silica Rapids? Or, what was the chemistry again which made this water so blue? Plants I have never seen, birds I have never heard, and wild footprints I can not recognize ... I will keep my mind a bit longer occupied with these questions and note down the explanations. For now, I am back to a hot shower. It is nice. But not for too long. Then its boring. Too many things to see out there.

Both ends of the rainbow above lake Wakatipu.

Both ends of the rainbow above lake Wakatipu.

Walking in a painting

There are not many places, where I reconsider the possibility of the existence of fairies, draws, hobbits and unicorns. But New Zealand is one of them (the other one is Iceland). Feibai said it with: "It feels like we are walking in a painting".

Evening view on Mount Cook

Evening view on Mount Cook

We arrived the South Island of New Zealand in Christchurch. The scares of the 2011 earth quake, which flattened most of the city, are still very visible. But the new Christchurch will be modern, quake proof and is aiming to be an inspiration for the world. And I think it really can be, once it is finished. It is an amazing financial and spiritual effort to rebuild the city. Also the quake left scares in people's souls. But they have a great spirt to deal with it. It was touching to hear the comment of a museum staff, saying: "Oh, I wish the city could be ready for Christmas". It will not be. But it is improving every day. And even it is becoming a modern town now, the heritage around. 

We drove from Christchurch to Mount Cook and had one overnight before reaching Queenstown. This is a beautiful place, and we will stay a few days, exploring the mountains around by foot. We already hiked up the Shotover River, looked a bit into the old gold mining projects, like the Oxenbridge Tunnel at Arthurs Point, and learned about the Chinese gold trader Sew Hoy, who was active in this region around 1885. Today took the Fernhill Loop Track through the forests up to about 1000 meters. Again, a beautiful view. This was a warm up, to get a bit higher in the next days.

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

The predominant mushroom in the forests around. A pity, the Brothers Grimm missed New Zealand. 

The predominant mushroom in the forests around. A pity, the Brothers Grimm missed New Zealand.